FISA renewal bill passed in GOP-led House without warrant requirement in bipartisan vote

There are currently 431 House members, due to 4 vacancies, but only 424 members casted yes or no votes on the amendment to end warrantless surveillance. 
Capitol Hill

A bill to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act's controversial section 702 surveillance program through 2026 passed without a warrant requirement amendment in a bipartisan vote on Friday.

The amendment to end warrantless surveillance failed to pass in a tie vote of 212-212 on the House floor.

The amendment would have prohibited "warrantless searches of U.S. person communications in the FISA 702 database, with exceptions for imminent threats to life or bodily harm, consent searches, or known cybersecurity threat signatures."

There are currently 431 House members due to 4 vacancies but only 424 members casted yes or no votes on the amendment to end warrantless surveillance. 

A separate amendment that would enable the use of Section 702 information to "vet foreigners traveling to the United States" passed.

The FISA reauthorization bill first cleared a procedural hurdle after the rule allowing consideration of the legislation passed on the floor in the morning 213-208.

The bill to renew FISA section 702 for 2 years as opposed to the original 5-year period now heads to the Democratic-led Senate for consideration.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner, R-Ohio, urged a no vote on the warrant requirement amendment, arguing that it would hinder U.S. authorities from collecting intelligence on terrorist groups to prevent attacks in the U.S.

“You would have to have evidence of a crime that is occurring in order to get that warrant, which means we’ll be blind. The moment that this becomes law we will be blind and will be unable to look at what Hezbollah is doing in the United States, what Hamas is doing in the United States, and what the Chinese Communist Party is doing in the United States," Turner said Friday on the House floor.

The warrant requirement amendment passed in an initial voice vote on the House floor and a recorded vote was requested. The final recorded votes on the amendment was postponed while lawmakers debated the other proposed amendments to the bill.

Other members like Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said the warrant requirement would provide Fourth Amendment protection to Americans.

Biggs said that constitutional protections do not apply to suspected terrorists so the warrant requirement would only apply to "U.S. person queries" of the section 702 database. 

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, also said he supports the warrant requirement amendment. 

"Massie amounts of Americans' communications are still swept up in section 702 searches," Nadler said. 

He noted that a report in 2023 found that U.S. law enforcement abused FISA section 702 more about 278,000 times over a period of sever years.